A FINANCIAL advisor accused of involvement in a multi-million pound investment fraud has told a jury about his first meeting with Brighouse conman John Hirst.
Richard Pollett, a former accountant who moved to Mallorca (Majorca) in the late 1980s, said when he first heard about Hirst’s investment scheme he said it looked too good to be true.
But Pollett, who denies being part of a conspiracy to defraud investors in Mallorca, said when he met Hirst for the first time there was nothing to suggest he was fraudulent.
“Of course it all sounds sort of stupid now when one knows the realities of the situation but he did come across as a fairly charismatic sort of individual,” said Pollett.
The defendant said Hirst told him he had worked for the Prudential and was involved in investing for family and friends.
Pollett claimed that Hirst told him he had made money by selling a scheme to Lloyds underwriters and had also sold a house in Hampton Court in London.
The jury at Bradford Crown Court has heard that Hirst was jailed in the early 1990s for a scam involving former miners, but Pollett said he would not have got involved with Hirst if he knew he had been convicted of fraud.
Hirst told Pollett he traded on the Dow Jones Index and was looking to expand his investment scheme.
“I was reasonably impressed with him as a person. He came across very well,” said Pollett.
Pollett said he spoke to people already investing with Hirst who told him the scheme was wonderful and he also made inquiries about the viability of the scheme with a man who worked for Morgan Stanley.
Pollett said during another meeting he told Hirst that he wanted to change the investors’ contract so any people he introduced would not have their capital put at risk and Hirst told him that he could do that.
The court heard that Pollett was going to be paid commission for introducing people to Hirst’s scheme, but he said he never saw any of the bank statements of Hirst’s company Gilher Inc and there was no contract between him and Hirst.
Pollett, 70, from Dorset, said he had not been “pushing” Hirst’s scheme to his clients and had been offering other existing schemes at the same time.
John Hirst, 61, of Millroyd Mill, Huddersfield Road, Brighouse, has accepted his involvement in the so-called “Ponzi’’ scheme which swindled ex-pats in Mallorca out of millions of pounds.
Hirst’s 62-year-old wife Linda, from Surrey, his step-daughter Zoe Waite, 36, also from Surrey, and his 35-year-old solicitor son Daniel, of Marsh Lane, Leeds, have all denied money-laundering allegations.
The trial continues.